Hi, my name’s Sam Dyer and welcome to the Life More Powerful podcast. In this episode, I’m going to talk to you about why I think we should say no to ‘manning up’.
This episode is inspired by a good friend of mine and something he posted on Facebook. He’s having a tough time of it. He posted a picture of a stone in the shape of a heart, which is actually broken.
“Yeah… me right now.
Broken and now it’s (my heart) is made of stone.
I give up but life moves on.
Onwards and upwards…. as I can’t go or feel any lower than right now.”
One of the hashtags he used was #manup.
I hear this phrase used so frequently. Not just by men either. It’s used by men to men, men to women, women to women, women to men. The most dangerous I think though is the often-silent one. That internal self-talk. Telling yourself to man up. Creating it as internal dialogue which creates a belief, which in turn creates behaviour.
We have got to get this out of our language. Either that or totally redefine it. I think the latter takes too long and we need to take immediate action.
With your help, I want to make the use of it unacceptable. Unacceptable to say to others and unacceptable to say to yourself. According to the Office of National Statistics: “UK male suicide rate of 17.2 deaths per 100,000 represents a significant increase from the rate in 2017; for females, the UK rate was 5.4 deaths per 100,000, consistent with the rates over the past 10 years.”
I work with linguistics – it’s what the L in NLP stands for. Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Words matter. The impact words have is huge. And because the impact words have is huge, we need to use them wisely and use them to create the impact intended.
I’m all for building resilience and yet I don’t think this is achieved by phrases like “man up” or “put your big boy or girl pants on”.
Whilst I believe that we are, as a whole, much more aware of looking after our mental health, there is more that needs to be done. To me, the figures are clear that a lot of that work does need to be done in respect of men as the suicide rate shows a “significant increase” amongst men between 2017 and 2018. That’s why a phrase such as “man up” grates with me so much.
We are far enough along the road to know that bottling things up, keeping a stiff upper lip, sayings “boys don’t cry” and hiding our emotions is not good for us. It’s worse than that though… it’s bad for us, really bad. For some, it’s detrimental to the highest degree and they feel there is no other way for them than to end their life.
We need to help each other. Yes, sharing a post on LinkedIn or Facebook about mental health does help. It needs to go way further though. If someone does or says something which makes you think that they are not ok, go out of your way to get them to talk. Create the right environment, time it right and make sure that they have your full attention. It takes effort and you may get rebuffed. So keep trying. Guess what? Sometimes they don’t know what’s best for them and you do know better! They may not want to speak to you at first and you may need to keep trying. Let them know you are there, truly there and not just saying it. Change “give me a call if you want” to “shall I call you now or this evening?”.
As a 40-something-year-old, I get the confusion that can be felt around what defines a man as we fast approach 2020. One thing I will tell you is that I think my times of greatest strength have also been when I’ve cried the most. I also think that showing real and true vulnerability is strength. That strength then brings more strength. We also need to not be afraid to show our strength too. No wonder it can get confusing.
If you take nothing else from this other than stop using “man up”, I’m happy with that. Change the language. If we change our language, we change our self-talk. If we change our self-talk, we change our beliefs. If we change our beliefs, we change our behaviour.
So, whatever you do, don’t man up. Let’s ban it as of right now and start talking in a positive and resourceful way.
Here’s my challenge to you: stop using “man up” as of this moment. Also, next time you see or hear someone in need, reach out to them in a true and meaningful way.
Thank you for listening. My name’s Sam Dyer and you’ve been listening to a Life More Powerful podcast. Please share with your friends and don’t forget to subscribe.